We have been teaching history for many ,many years. We teach all about ancient Israel, the Holocaust, modern Israel, and more. As a tour guide for nearly 30 years , I have had the good fortune to introduce and discuss with many tourists these and other topics while touring battle sites, archeological sites, Biblical sites, and historical sites.
Nothing prepared me for the “tour day” of the “Otef Aza“area, the settlements, kibbutzim and cities near the Gaza strip. We are no longer just teaching history. We are living it!
The atrocities of Oct 7 are with us and will be with us for a long time.
Did this really happen? Is this “fake news”? Could it be that the Israelis really did make up these stories as some in social media say? When you visit and see the actual sites where the Hamas barbarians came in and slaughtered , raped and kidnapped people, you stop wondering. When you meet and hear the stories from people who manage to escape and survive the massacres, you realize there is nothing fake here. These are not just stories of our recent past . They are not stories that happened to other people far away in a distant land or distant time. These atrocities happened to us.
Here are just a few of the actual stories that happened, as told to us by survivors. There are many more.
Our tour took us first to Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara. A kibbutz adjacent to the northern Gaza strip. The people living here built themselves a beautiful life, with houses, gardens, and even a “peace wall” adjacent to the border fence. Many Gazans would cross the border daily to work in their homes and factories. This kibbutz, like others, provided a livelihood for many Gazan families.
Yet all that changed on the morning of Oct 7. That morning, at 6:28 a.m under the cover of heavy rocket fire from Gaza, 3 hang gliders flew above the border wall and landed in the Kibbutz. Each terrorist came equipped with communication devices, Go Pro cameras and GPS locators, so that they could transmit every minute of the “action” back to the Hamas headquarters in Gaza. They each carried an AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle. They were ready to kill. Anyone and everyone. And kill they did.
As we walk thru the kibbutz we see protected areas; cement huts built to protect people from rocket or missile attacks. We are shown a cement hut where a 78 yr old women tried to hide and protect herself from the terrorists. Instead, we can still see the blood marks and bullet holes in the wall of the Hut. They shot her 8 times! Once wasn’t enough? A defenseless older woman???
We continued walking with our guide Micha Shmidovitz. Born and raised on the kibbutz, now living there with his extended family and currently a member of the Kibbutz Security Unit who survived the attack on the kibbutz, led us on what he calls the “murder path”. We saw a house totally burnt, while the family was still inside! We saw another house where the family hid in the “secure” room. They too were discovered by the terrorists and killed.
The 4 brave members of the kibbutz security detail did everything they could to protect and defend the Kibbutz.
How did this happen? We were told that as they flew over, the terrorists were able to shoot at the electric poles and take out the power. Apparently there was also a cyber attack in the area, which disabled any alarms and communications, just before they flew over.
Where was the army? It seems that over the past two years, the army felt that the “situation” was safe enough to reduce its forces in the area. Where previously there were two platoons living on the Kibbutz, now there were just 4 members of the Kibbutz Security Unit to protect the Kibbutz with their personal weapons. They fought bravely and managed to survive. The surviving kibbutz members have been evacuated to hotels and apartments in other parts of the country. The Kibbutz Security Unit remains on the kibbutz. They have stayed to maintain the homes,gardens and pathways, until they all return.
We continued on our tour, to the city of Sderot. A beautiful city of some 36,000 residents.
Now it feels like a ghost town.
On the morning of Oct 7, terrorists were able to break thru the border fence and drive in Toyota pick up trucks and other vehicles .They blocked all roads into the city. They knew where the police station was. They headed towards the police station with the intent to kill anyone inside and destroy it.
We met across from the former Police Station with Shabtai Garbetzk , a police spokesperson and survivor who told us the following .
The terrorists were heavily armed. They also had food in their packs. they prepared for a long killing spree. They entered the police station, killed anyone inside, and even planted mines in each room. They planned to blow up the building.
Every policeman who moved towards the building was killed by terrorists.
Their plan was to continue northwards on this killing spree. Many of these terrorists knew who was in the building, where people lived and more. Many had worked previously in Sderot.
The men and women of the police fought bravely. For nearly 25 hrs.
The police commander finally decided that the only way to end the terrorist siege of the police station was to blow it up . He called for a Merkava tank to shoot and reduce the building to rubble , with the terrorists inside. In the end, after 25 hrs of battle in Sderot, 26 terrorists were dead inside the building with many more killed in the streets.
Our trip continued to the sites of the Nova music festival.
Here we met with Dean Tessler , a 21 year old music lover who got a job as a security guard at the concert festival site and survived the massacre.
3,000 people attended this festival. Many partied all night, slept in tents or just on the ground in a sleeping bag. All came just to have a good time.
At 6:30 am, rockets start to fly overhead. The area was at the edge of a forest. There were no protected huts or other safe areas. At first, the police told people to lie on the ground, which is pretty much the norm when a siren sounds in Israel and there is no safe area to run to. After a continuous barrage, the police realized that something much bigger is happening and they did their best to get people back into their cars and run/drive away! The police did not know that terrorists had invaded and were spread out all around the area of the festival, preventing people from escaping !
Those who made it out to the roadway, saw destroyed cars and cars on fire.
They did not know if these cars were hit by bullets ,rockets, or missiles. They saw hundreds of terrorists riding on Toyota pick ups or ATV’s. The terrorists attacked whomever they saw. They murdered, raped, and wounded anyone that was in their way. They lay in ambush waiting for anyone who crossed their path.
Our young security guard along with his friend Bar, managed to help many of the wounded. While Dean drove his ATV, Bar applied makeshift tourniquets to the wounded. Together they managed to save many lives. At some point, they separated and each ran to hide in the bush. Dean stayed hidden among the trees and bushes for nearly 10 hrs. He was too scared to come out, due to the terrorists he saw nearby. It was only after dark , that he heard IDF units in the area and took a chance that they would see him. Dean survived, and is now doing what he can to tell his story. Unfortunately, his friend Bar Kupershtein was taken as a hostage by the terrorists to Gaza, and is still there.
3000 terrorists invaded Israel from Gaza on the morning of Oct 7.
Who were the terrorists?
Iz al Din El Khassam-Well trained soldiers
Fatah(PLO) , Jihad and Islamic terrorists
Asafsuf- officially “non combatants”; Gazans who decide to join the “party of slaughter”,stole valuables and mementos from the homes of the victims.
They were called to their local mosques at 4 a.m and each group what told what they were to do. Only the small group of commanders at the Hamas headquarters in Gaza knew the plan beforehand
How do we continue? How do we move on?
We will continue to fight until there are no more terrorists in our backyard and until all the hostages are returned.
We are resilient. We are a stiff necked people.
We have lived thru many tragedies.
Yet while our enemies have perished we live on.
And thank God, we thrive!! With Gods’ help, we have survived and created a beautiful country.
We are and will continue to be a beacon of light unto other nations, always ready to hold out a hand when needed. Even to our enemies.
Perhaps it is jealousy that drives the barbarians around us. They have not been able to create a beautiful country for themselves. Their leaders live in luxury, while their people live in squalor. Instead, they educate their young to be murderers, rapists, and Jew haters. As painful as it is, I am convinced we will survive this as well.
What can any of us do??
Be proud that we have our own country , where we can defend and FIGHT AGAINST anyone who tries to harm us.
Stand proudly as Jews
Promote Israel. Any and every chance you get
Share knowledge of these tragic events with your friends and colleagues
If you are on social media, spread the word.
Stay informed . Beware of Fake News.
If you can, come and see the sites of these tragic events for yourself.
I long for the day where I will be able to lead you on a tour of REBUILT Otef Aza and show you the peaceful, pastoral fields of red anemones in bloom. In the meantime, come now and see for yourselves the history that we are now living!